on Job 31 :1
I made a covenant with mine eyes - ברית כרתי לעיני berith carati leeynai: "I have cut" or divided "the covenant sacrifice with my eyes." My conscience and my eyes are the contracting parties; God is the Judge; and I am therefore bound not to look upon any thing with a delighted or covetous eye, by which my conscience may be defiled, or my God dishonored.
Why then should I think upon a maid? - ומה אתבונן על בתולה umah ethbonen al bethulah. And why should I set myself to contemplate, or think upon, Bethulah? That Bethulah may here signify an idol, is very likely. Sanchoniatho observes, that Ouranos first introduced Baithulia when he erected animated stones, or rather, as Bochart observes, Anointed stones, which became representatives of some deity. I suppose that Job purges himself here from this species of idolatry. Probably the Baithulia were at first emblems only of the tabernacle; בית אלוה beith Eloah, "the house of God;" or of that pillar set up by Jacob, Genesis 28:18, which he called בית אלהים beith Elohim, or Bethalim; for idolatry always supposes a pure and holy worship, of which it is the counterfeit. For more on the subject of the Baithulia, see the notes on Genesis 28:19.
on Job 31 :1
I made a covenant with mine eyes - The first virtue of his private life to which Job refers is chastity. Such was his sense of the importance of this, and of the danger to which man was exposed, that he had solemnly resolved not to think upon a young female. The phrase here, "I made a covenant with mine eyes," is poetical, meaning that he solemnly resolved. A covenant is of a sacred and binding nature; and the strength of his resolution was as great as if he had made a solemn compact. A covenant or compact was usually made by slaying an animal in sacrifice, and the compact was ratified over the animal that was slain, by a kind of imprecation that if the compact was violated the same destruction might fall on the violators which fell on the head of the victim. This idea of cutting up a victim on occasion of making a covenant, is retained in most languages. So the Greek ὅρκια τέμνειν, πέμνἔιν σπονδάς horkia temnein, temnein spondas, and the Latin icere foedus - to strike a league, in allusion to the striking down, or slaying of an animal on the occasion. And so the Hebrew, as in the place before us, כרת ברית berı̂yth kârath - to cut a covenant, from cutting down, or cutting in pieces the victim over which the covenant was made; see this explained at length in the notes at Hebrews 9:16. By the language here, Job means that he had resolved, in the most solemn manner, that he would not allow his eyes or thoughts to endanger him by improperly contemplating a woman.
Why then should I think upon a maid - Upon a virgin - על־בתולה ‛al-bethûlâh; compare Proverbs 6:25, "Lust not after her beauty in thine heart; neither let her take thee with her eyelids;" see, also, the fearful and solemn declaration of the Saviour in Matthew 5:28. There is much emphasis in the expression used here by Job. He does not merely say that he had not thought in that manner, but that the thing was morally impossible that he should have done it. Any charge of that kind, or any suspicion of it, he would repel with indignation. His purpose to lead a pure life, and to keep a pure heart, had been so settled, that it was impossible that he could have offended in that respect. His purpose, also, not to think on this subject, showed the extent of the restriction imposed on himself. It was not merely his intention to lead a chaste life, and to avoid open sin, but it was to maintain a pure heart, and not to suffer the mind to become corrupted by dwelling on impure images, or indulging in unholy desires. This strongly shows Job's piety and purity of heart, and is a beautiful illustration of patriarchal religion. We may remark here, that if a man wishes to maintain purity of life, he must make just such a covenant as this with himself - one so sacred, so solemn, so firm, that he will not suffer his mind for a moment to harbor an improper thought. "The very passage of an impure thought through the mind leaves pollution behind it;" and the outbreaking crimes of life are just the result of allowing the imagination to dwell on impure images. As the eye is the great source of danger (compare Matthew 5:28; 2 Peter 2:14), there should be a solemn purpose that that should be pure, and that any sacrifice should be made rather than allow indulgence to a wanton gaze: compare Mark 9:47. No man was ever too much guarded on this subject; no one ever yet made too solemn a covenant with his eyes, and with his whole soul to be chaste.
on Job 31 :1
31:1 I made - So far have I been from any gross wickedness, that I have abstained from the least occasions and appearances of evil.